Viking Line is ordering a new passenger ferry from China. On Wednesday the Finnish company signed a letter of intent with Xiamen Shipbuilding for a passenger vessel to be delivered in the spring of 2020. It will ply the route between Turku in south-western Finland and the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
Viking Line is based in the semi-autonomous Åland Islands between Finland and Sweden.
The ship will cost 190 million euros. The company says that the nearest Finnish offer would have been at least 50 million euros higher.
CEO Jan Hanses says that the Chinese bid was much lower than any other.
"We are a relatively small shipping line that must self-finance its own orders. The price difference was so significant that there was no alternative to going down this path," he told Yle.
Hanses that bids were sought from other shipyards, including the one in Turku, but that it has its hands full with current orders. As an alternative, the yard's German parent company Meyer Werft offered to build the vessel at its other shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.
Finnish design and natural gas
Hanses says he has no doubts about the Chinese firm's ability to deliver the ship, adding that it will be built in partnership with Finnish design firm Deltamarin. The deal includes an option for an additional vessel.
The new ship, which will carry about 2,800 people, is to replace the 28-year-old M/S Amorella.
“Our intention is for the vessel to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG)," says Hanses. "We have excellent experience with this from the M/S Viking Grace, the first large LNG-powered passenger vessel in the world. Great emphasis has been placed in the planning work on environmentally sound solutions, including new innovative energy-efficient applications."